In early May, the Rev. Curnell Graham and his leadership team planned a return to worship on June 7 in the parking lot of Christ United Methodist Church, Columbus.
The lead pastor of Christ UMC, Graham is a collaborator who loves to share gifts of worship. For this service, Graham partnered with a local gospel band, “4 His Purpose,” to lead the music for worship. “The Christ worship team lead and carried our Facebook Live worship for months,” Graham said. “This was a chance for them to take a break and for us to try something a little different.”
With over 70 vehicles in the parking lot, parishioners shared in celebrating graduates, worshiping God and taking Holy Communion.
From the bed of his pickup truck, Graham preached the Great Commission from Matthew 28:16-20 and encouraged all to, 'Go therefore’ and make disciples.” Graham said, “The church never closed. Jesus said, ‘Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am, in the midst of them.’”
Noting that it was Trinity Sunday, Graham said, “Only in God’s mathematics does one plus one plus one equal one. We have a monotheistic religion but serve a Triune God.”
While some attendees remained in their cars, others enjoyed worship outside, sitting in lawn chairs and under shaded trees. Social distancing and masking were honored. At the conclusion of the service, many remained for almost 30 minutes, walking from car to car to see friends while keeping a safe distance.
Before leaving, a little boy who lived next to the church asked to see the pastor. Graham found him, and they talked. Graham introduced him to Char Barnes, the children’s ministry coordinator, to connect with his family.
The Great Commission was alive in that moment.